16 Jun 2014
Beach Soccer boosts the 'Tri' in the World Cup
10 out of 23 players of Ecuador's squad in Brazil's World Cup come from the little town of Esmeraldas, and grew their talent in the beach
Many experts have always argued that training on the beach is really beneficial for a sportsman or sportswoman. The irregular surface and the difficulties of moving, running or jumping on the sand helps the athletes get stronger, quicker and more agile. Besides, it helps improve the technical skills when it comes to football.
It is not unusual to see top-class professional football players or teams come down to the beach for some series of training. But beyond all that, in the FIFA World Cup taking place in Brazil we have had the clearest example of the good beach soccer can do to professional footballers: ten out of the 23 players comprising the Ecuadorian National Squad grew their talent, and physique, playing on the beach since their earliest years.
The province of Esmeraldas, Ecuador, with 531.000 inhabitants, represents just the 3 per cent of the country's population. But, at the same time, it provides the country’s World Cup team with almost half of the squad...
The Esmeraldeños have always boasted of having the best soccer pitch in the country: the beach at low-tide. At least twice a day, dozens of men come down to the beach to play in amateur, self-organized, but fiercely competitive, beach soccer matches.
This is the environment where 10 out of the 23 National heroes fighting in Brazil have grown in. And this does not include captain Antonio Valencia of Manchester United, who was born in the Amazonas but whose parents were from Esmeraldas.
Manuel Hurtado, a regular at the games, said Esmeralda’s beaches are Ecuador’s World Cup secret weapon. “Everything is harder to do in the sand,” he said. “It’s harder to control the ball, harder to pass. Every time you take a step it’s like taking 10. For men who cut their teeth here, a regulation soccer field is a cakewalk", he added.